Hello again from Kids Saving The Rainforest!
As promised in the last issue, I would like to introduce you to two very special baby sloths. Dudley and Smokey are growing up together in our nursery. While their stories of how they got here are sad, they are both healthy and have each other to grow up with.
Dudley came to us on July 23rd, 2019 after KSTR received a rescue call at a local hotel. Dudley had fallen from her mother and she was unable to be reunited by hotel staff. Dudley was very weak and her coloring was off when KSTR wildlife personnel arrived. We had to make the tough choice of removing her and taking her to our clinic. We photographed her mother and noted her location.
Our veterinarian and clinic staff did a full exam on Dudley and treated her. She was found with a tick embedded in her fur and her weakness continued. She regained her strength after a couple of days and we made Herculean attempts to reunite her with her mother. Unfortunately, our attempts were unsuccessful and she was brought back to KSTR to be raised until she is ready for release back in the wild.
A few days after Dudley’s arrival, a past KSTR board member brought us Smokey.
He was in the area of Hotel California with his mother when they were both electrocuted on a transformer. Sadly, his mother did not survive and he was left orphaned. Smokey suffered electrical burns under his chin and body. He was treated by our veterinarian and clinic staff and then brought to the nursery.
Dudley and Smokey were introduced
to each other after they received observation and clean health inspections. They hit it off and have become the best of friends. Dudley is a talented climber but prefers to use Smokey’s back, much to his dismay. Smokey is younger than Dudley but bigger than Dudley is so she prefers to hitchhike. I wish I could embed a video into this magazine because we have thee most amazing videos from the first time they met. We will have to settle for the pictures instead.
Tuesday, December 3rd is Giving Tuesday this year. It was started as a day for anyone, anywhere to give and it’s grown into the biggest giving movement in the world. Giving Tuesday harnesses the generosity of millions of people around the world to support the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live. We believe the movement will become the first global day of giving and a year-round platform for strengthening civil society.
Please consider giving to our cause. All Giving Tuesday Donations will go directly to an X-ray machine that is desperately needed at Kids Saving The Rainforest. Most of the animals that KSTR receives come with very serious injuries, trauma, and diseases and require X-rays. Unfortunately, KSTR does not have one on-site and has to travel for one hour to a location that has one. Sloths, monkeys, birds...the stress and trauma of traveling can kill them if their injuries don’t.
They all need YOUR help!
Donations can be made on Giving Tuesday or any time of the year at kstr.org or at www.kidssavingtherainforest.org/givingtuesday.html
Kids Saving the Rainforest is a non-profit animal rescue/sanctuary and reforestation project located in Quepos. Tours are available six days a week by contacting email@example.com and volunteer opportunities are available at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check out our Facebook and Instagram pages as well. Pura Vida from the staff and interns at Kids Saving the Rainforest.
When I arrived, both of the kinkajous were in rehabilitation and almost ready to be released. To ensure that they were ready to go out, I redesigned their enrichments to mimic the ways they would need to find food in the wild, including giving them unpeeled fruit, fruit sealed in a cardboard roll, and pulped fruit in a container that they had to use their tongues to lick out.
A fellow intern and I conducted behavioral observation to ensure that they were climbing well and showing natural activity schedules. Once we were certain they would survive in the wild, we took them out to an isolated patch of forest to release them. We decided to give them a soft release, and provided a nest box and food for them to get adjusted to their new home. When we opened up the doors of their kennel, they quickly climbed out and began to explore the trees and new scents around them. Pink has reappeared around a nearby house, but we hope this is an isolated incident and he will soon dwell solely in the forest where he belongs! Selah is doing great, and I'll be sure to include any updates about them in the future!
In addition to working with the kinkajous in rehab, I've gotten to know the sanctuary kinkajous pretty well. My research project involves putting up camera traps to monitor the two cages in the sanctuary, and when I began my project, I was blissfully unaware of how curious kinkajous are. I walked into Julian and Hillary's enclosure during the day when they were sleeping, and I started setting up the camera trap. A couple minutes later, I saw movement out of the corner of my eyes and suddenly Julian, the kinkajou that was supposed to be fast asleep, was right next to me!
He climbed up to the camera trap that I had so carefully placed inside the cage and began to paw and bite at it, and after he had thoroughly messed up all my hard work, he decided that I was the more interesting object in his enclosure. Moving more quickly than I could imagine, he climbed down a tree branch, crossed the ground to my leg, and promptly climbed up to my shoulder like I was some bizarre tree! Now, the rules of the sanctuary clearly state that interns are not allowed to touch, pet, or cuddle the animals, but I was never told what to do when the animal is on top of you! Unsure of what to do, I just waited, barely suppressing laughter, while he sniffed my hair, pawed at the radio on my belt, and chewed on my shirt. After a short while, he climbed back down to the ground, but since that incident I've learned my lesson and have started putting up the camera traps on the outside of their enclosures! From this close interaction, I also learned that despite the stinky rotting fruit rinds and poop they leave around their enclosure, kinkajous themselves actually smell quite nice! Their fur has a pleasant, nutty smell to it, which I would never have guessed before working with them.
Kays R. Gittleman JL. 2001. The social organization of the kinkajou Potos flavus (Procyonidae). Journal of Zoology. 253(4): 491-504.
Kays RW. 1999. Food Preferences of Kinkajous (Potos flavus): A Frugivorous Carnivore. Journal of Mammalogy. 80:589-599. https://doi.org/10.2307/1383303
Karma Saving the Rainforest
By Karma Imagine Casey
Hello fellow Quepolandia readers! It's Karma Casey, the Kids Saving the Rainforest spokeskid! If you haven’t heard of KSTR, it’s a wonderful wildlife rescue and sanctuary non-profit right here in Quepos! They also plant trees and put up wildlife bridges in the area. For the last two years, I have been writing an article each month for Quepolandia, telling you all about KSTR and how to help the planet! This month's article is a little bit different than the rest. This is my farewell article, so you won’t be reading my byline at the top of the page anymore!
Well, let's start from the beginning of my story. I was an eight year old girl who loved animals and wanted to help them, but I was too young to really help them where I lived. I was just reading and researching about the majestic sloth (one of my favorite animals) when I saw the story about Jeannine and Aislin, the two nine year old girls who originally started Kids Saving the Rainforest.
The girls lived in Manuel Antonio, and they could see that the rainforest was beginning to be destroyed. They began by painting rocks and selling other arts and crafts. With the money they raised, they would buy trees to plant. Kids Saving the Rainforest grew and grew, eventually getting permission from the Costa Rican government to open a wildlife sanctuary and veterinary clinic. It has been open for about twenty years now. Wow! That's a long time!
I was so inspired by this story, that I decided to reach out to the amazing Jennifer Rice, the president of Kids Saving the Rainforest. I told her how it was my dream to come and help all the animals there.
I decided to raise money for Kids Saving the Rainforest. So I painted rocks and piggy banks, made inspirational quotes, and sold my toys. I donated the money to them. You guys can can make crafts to sell, or just donate at kstr.org! Me and Jennifer talked for a while, until me and my Mama heard Kids Saving the Rainforest needed a new Volunteer Coordinator! We made a very bold decision and moved to Costa Rica to dedicate our lives to helping KSTR. I arrived when I was nine years old, just like Janine and Aislin when they started the organization!
We spent an amazing two years here, giving tours, helping animals, and inspiring others to respect wildlife. I helped pick leaves for sloths, made enrichments to place in the homes of the sanctuary animals to make their lives better, planted trees, and so much more! I wrote these articles, went to the national park to talk with people about not feeding wildlife, and got to know some truly amazing and wildly wonderful people!
It's amazing here, but sadly I am moving back to the United States. If you are reading this, I am already in the US. I have learned so very much during my two years here, and become so inspired! Kids Saving the Rainforest has inspired so many people over the years, not just me. I am so happy that you got to read my articles. I hope you learned a lot. I know I did!
I learned so many things at Kids Saving the Rainforest, from respecting wildlife, pooping sloths, animal diets, and how I can work hard and grow up to become a biologist or a veterinarian and help even more animals! I also learned things like writing these articles for you all, public speaking, and I have made so many friends, and learned so many life lessons.
Even though I am moving back to the United States, I will still be in touch with Kids Saving the Rainforest, and help the planet. If you would like to contact me, my email is email@example.com. Here are a few things I learned in my time here that I think you should know.
Even though I'm not going to be writing the articles anymore, the new volunteer coordinator at KSTR will be taking over for now. He also does the radio shows in the Marina outside of Quepos! He is a very knowledgeable biologist! I bet he has a bunch of good stories for you. If you want to donate, volunteer, or look at some animal pictures go to kstr.org!
A big thanks to all the people who help to save the planet. Does that sound anything like you? If not, you can start now! It's not that hard. Don't litter, plant trees, respect the wildlife and much much more. Well I hope you enjoyed this article. I will miss you guys so much. I hope I inspired you at least a little bit.
Remember, if you find injured orphaned wildlife, send a WhatsApp message to the KSTR veterinary clinic team at 88-ANIMAL, and they’ll come to the rescue. Farewell!
Gradually, he has grown more alert to his surroundings and more mobile, however, due to his injuries, he doesn't use his right hand and spins in a circle when he tries to move. The brain damage that causes behaviors such as these takes a while to heal, but his improvement so far gives us hope that he will eventually make a full recovery. The clinic staff names all the animals who come in, and we decided to name him Chicky, the name of a certain type of Costa Rican cookie that has been all the rage at Kids Saving the Rainforest recently.
I also went to Manuel Antonio National Park this week with a group from Kids Saving the Rainforest. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll put the highlights below! Thanks for tuning in!
Greetings from the rainforest! This week, I'll be talking about porcupines; more specifically, the Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine! When I first came to Costa Rica, I was surprised that there were porcupines endemic, or native, to this area. I'd only known about the North American porcupine, which is only found as far south as northern Mexico. I'm sure you've seen photos of this species, with their long fur and quills. The Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine is found from Mexico to Panama, and looks quite different than its northern relative. About four and a half pounds as an adult, they're covered in short brown fur with patches of yellow quills throughout their body that are most concentrated around their face. As a mostly arboreal species, they have a long, prehensile, naked tail that aids them when climbing through trees. Many rainforest mammals have prehensile tails, including porcupines, opossums, kinkajous, and several species of monkey. This is an interesting example of convergent evolution, a word used in biology to describe when animals from different lineages evolve similar features. One example of this is the evolution of flight in both birds and bats: the ancestor of birds and bats couldn't fly, yet modern day species of both lineages have evolved flight to access food and avoid predators. In the rainforest, the thick canopy makes arboreal locomotion the easiest way to take advantage of the fruit, insects, and prey found in the tree tops, and it also allows animals to avoid large terrestrial predators. Moving through branches and trees is much easier if your tail can grasp branches and assist in climbing. Therefore, many rainforest animals in different families, including primates, rodents, carnivores, and marsupials, have evolved a similar tail.
There is currently one porcupine at Kids Saving the Rainforest named Patrick. He was found near a hotel, and after a search of the area failed to find his mother, he was brought to Kids Saving the Rainforest and raised in the nursery. He has since been moved into rehabilitation so that he can learn skills to survive in the wild and to undo his imprinting. Imprinting is a common problem with animals from the pet trade and those raised in nurseries, and it refers to unnatural dependency on and desire to be around humans. If you release an imprinted animal into the wild, they will seek out human companionship as soon as possible, which could lead to them getting recaptured for a pet, injured, or even killed. The methods used to raise and rehab animals try to avoid imprinting, but it is sometimes inevitable that they become too used to humans through their frequent interactions necessary to provide for them the best care possible. This happens often in species that are susceptible to imprinting such as porcupines, and Patrick has had a problem with attention-seeking behaviors. Imprinted animals go through an extensive rehabilitation process where their contact with people is restricted to allow their natural wild instincts, including a fear of humans, to return. Therefore, when Patrick was moved into rehabilitation, he was placed into a cage inside boot camp, so that he would have as little contact with humans as possible. When I arrived, Patrick would come out of his nest box as soon as he heard us approaching his cage. He would frantically climb on the tree limbs and sides of the cage, trying to climb onto you as you changed his food and water. Although every instinct told me to hold him and give him attention, I knew that it was in his best interest to dislike and fear humans. Additionally, a porcupine is not exactly the type of animal that you want crawling over you and cuddling up with you!
In order to undo his imprinting, we would give a harmless but unpleasant deterrent when he approached and reached out to climb onto us. These include squirting water in his face, blowing in his face, or making a sudden sound like finger snaps or shushing. As bad as I felt about doing this, Patrick ensured that I felt even worse by climbing to a corner of the cage and whining to himself after he was chased off. Sometimes, doing what's best for the animals is unpleasant for both you and the animal in the short term, but it will ultimately ensure that they can live a life without cages in the wild.
Patrick has improved a lot recently, but he is still showing behaviors that indicated he is imprinted. To help with this and to allow him to learn more survival skills before being fully released, the clinic staff decided to release him from his smaller cage into the main boot camp area so that he would have a larger terrain to explore. Since porcupines are nocturnal, we released him in the late afternoon, closer to the start of his "day". We woke him up by tapping gently on his nesting box, then opening the door of his cage so he could walk out into boot camp. Hesitant at first, he climbed on top of the open door and spent a while looking around. Eventually, he climbed down and trotted out of his cage. As we expected, he immediately made his way to the three of us standing close by, determined to get the cuddles he so desperately wants. We spent a couple of minutes walking away from him (baby porcupines are thankfully not very fast!) until he got distracted by the sights and smells of the forest around him and ambled off into the bushes. Since then, we've seen him several times when feeding the sloths, and have always had to quickly walk away to avoid prickly porcupine cuddles. He still has a way to go before he is able to be released, but we were all very happy that he completed the next step towards freedom.
Miller, M. 2009. "Sphiggurus mexicanus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 02, 2019 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Sphiggurus_mexicanus/
Electrocuted howler monkey – September 7
Kids Saving The Rainforest received a call earlier this week of an electrocuted howler monkey in the Villa Lirio area. A KSTR ambulance responded but the howler had left prior to our arrival. We searched the area and were unable to locate it. The neighbor who called (Inigo) was concerned about the electrocutions and said they happen weekly in the area. Inigo said he wanted to sponsor a wildlife bridge and was put in contact with Jennifer at KSTR.
The power company ICE was contacted the same day.
The following day KSTR received another call from Inigo of a second electrocuted howler monkey at the same spot. Our ambulance arrived to find ICE employees on scene installing the wildlife bridge. The second adult howler was on the ground in front of Canyon Verde. As our ambulance driver neared the howler with a kennel and other equipment, the howler climbed up the fence near where it was laying on the ground. An ICE employee lowered a tree branch and the howler quickly jumped into the tree. It appeared to be strong again as it jumped from tree to tree.
Both of these monkeys were electrocuted by the 110v lines which delivered a lesser shock than the higher powered lines. It is believed they were both stunned from the falls and were possibly in shock from a combination of the shocks and falls.
Inigo continues to be very involved with KSTR and we are looking at installing more wildlife bridges in the area. This area has some power lines that are not insulated and continue to be a danger to the wildlife. Thank you Inigo for bringing this big problem to our attention and ICE for their quick response. KSTR will continue to be vigilant in the Villa Lirio area.
Daisy The Duck – September 7
Little Daisy, the black-bellied whistling duck, came in at just 23 grams, after being found alone away from her family.
She was growing up really fast and doing well, but she needed to be with other ducks, so she could have the best chance for a proper rehabilitation and release...so now she has been moved where she can socialize with other ducks!
We will miss her and wish her the best of ‘duck’!
ITV NEWS article – September 12
ITV News: Costa Rican children saving the planet one tree at a time.
Click here to view the article and video on their website
Associated Press Visit – September 13
The Associated Press (AP) came to visit Kids Saving the Rainforest.
Click here for a summary and video on Youtube
DW GLOBAL video – September 13
DW Global: Children saving the rainforest in Costa Rica
Click here to view the video on Facebook
Luna – September 14
Luna is getting to be a proper raccoon these days! She is still pretty clumsy & needs assistance with feeding & toileting for a little longer, but she is making great progress!
Photo credits: Lis Penhearow
Click here to view on Facebook
Bloomberg NEWS video - September 15
Bloomberg TicToc: Kids Plant 10,000 Trees
Click here to view the video on their website
UN ENVIRONMENT Press release - SEPTEMBER 20
Costa Rica named ‘UN Champion of the Earth’ for pioneering role in fighting climate change
Click here to view the article on their website
Rainforest 5k Run
Come and run with us. For every person who participates we will plant a tree.
Vengan a correr por el bosque. Por cada corredor q participe sembraremos un árbol.
Click here to view on Facebook
It's storming yet again here at Kids Saving the Rainforest, and I'm going to give a brief summary about what I've been up to at my internship. The biggest development is that I've started my research project which I'm very excited about. All interns have to carry out an independent project while here, and after I arrived, I was thinking about what to do for my project. As I walked around the sanctuary, I noticed that some of our animals in the sanctuary exhibit stereotypical behaviors, a common problem for captive wild animals. These behaviors occur when the environment around an animal isn't stimulating enough, and an animal's normal behaviors for foraging and exploring their environment turn into maladaptive behaviors such as pacing, biting their tail, and over grooming themselves. We're currently working on reducing the amount of these behaviors in the coatimundis, which are related to kinkajous and raccoons. As I walked along the sanctuary, I thought to myself that if the coatis are having these behaviors, then surely the kinkajous must have some problematic behaviors as well. However, since kinkajous are strictly nocturnal, there would be no way to tell if they are acting this way or not if we're only watching them during the day. I decided to make my project about looking into stereotypical behaviors in our kinkajous. I had no idea that my research project would be about kinkajous when I started this blog, but it looks like the blog name is fitting better than I expected!
Additionally, the vet clinic is training our capuchin monkeys to make vet clinic work easier on them, and zoo literature states that training can be a from of environmental enrichment. Environmental enrichments are solutions to stereotypical behaviors, giving animals something to engage their attention and challenge them so they don't become bored. In addition to training, this can also include putting animals' food in simple puzzles that they have to solve to get the food, or putting their food in places so that they must use their natural foraging abilities to get it. My research project is going to be monitoring the kinkajous with camera traps to determine if there are problematic stereotypical behaviors occurring, then assessing their behavior, designing enrichments, and coming up with a training plan to meet their needs. I'm looking forward to getting involved in this project, and I've already realized how difficult it is to study nocturnal species. When an animal is only active during the night, you either have to observe them during the night or find a way to monitor them with a camera, then study the footage later. There are drawbacks to both these methods, and so far I'm testing both of them to gather preliminary data.
Speaking of enrichments, one of the most important aspects of caring for captive animals is having an enclosure that simulates their natural environment. At Kids Saving the Rainforest, we fill cages with branches, ropes, and greenery. However, the fresh leaves in enclosures wilt after about a week, and when this happens we trek out into the jungle with machetes to cut down fresh palms and leaves for the cages. Forging through the jungle and hacking down giant leaves is difficult work, but the best part is when you get to design the arrangement of the greenery inside the cages and watch the animals explore their new environment.
One of the best parts of my week was the trip to Parque Nahomi in Quepos. It's a very small, local park that sits on top of a peninsula that juts into the sea. I'm always amazed at the little pockets of beauty I find everywhere in this country.
We went to Nahomi to collect the leaves of the beach almond tree for our sloths. Coincidentally, as we were collecting, we looked up and saw a wild two-toed sloth and her baby right above us! The little sloth was up and moving (it was around sunset, right when this nocturnal species begins to wake up), while its mom was snoozing in the tree. The mom calmly examined the humans watching her, then went back to resting while her baby climbed around the branches, periodically letting out a small squeal.
Are you familiar with the term ‘Rainforest’?
As a name suggests, it is a type of forest that gets a lot of rain. And, such forests are immensely important for our entire planet.
In simple words, these forests are known as ‘Rainforest’s’ because they receive tons of rainfall every year. Did your kid have an idea about this fascinating ecosystem? And, is he or she wondering to know how these forests affect the food that we consume? Well, there are lots of things that every individual need to know about Rainforests. Well, in this post, we are decided to list some incredible facts about Rainforests for kids. But, before knowing about these, you should be aware of some actual terms of these forests.
What Are Rainforests?
A rainforest is a type of forest that gets a high quantity of rains every year and its area is warm, wet, and woodland. According to optimistic studies, the forest gets more than 80 inches (approximately 2000 millimetres) of rain within a single year.
Most rainforests are located in Brazil, and some you can find in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia. According to Biologists, over half of all plant and animal species are found in the rainforest. The Experts of Pharmaceuticals says, more than ¼ of all medicines are an extract from these forests.
Types Of Rainforests:
There are only two main types of rainforests that are:
· Temperate Rainforests
· Tropical Rainforests
Well, these types of rainforests are located between the tropics and the polar circles of the Earth. You can found such forests in a couple of regions around the globe like western North America, south-eastern Australia and New Zealand.
You can find different types of animals at temperate rainforests like bears, grey wolves, Siberian tigers, snow leopards pumas (mountain lion), kangaroos and wombats.
Such types of rainforests are located in the tropics. You can found them in the specific areas that close to the equator such as Asia, Africa, Central America and the Pacific Islands.
There you can find animals such as jaguar, monkey, leopard, parrot, iguana, chimpanzee, gorilla, Indian cobra, and orangutan etc. If you want to track a high school GPA of your child, then visit calculator-online.net to utilize GPA calculator. You can monitor high school GPA within a couple of seconds with the ease of this tool.
Facts About Rainforests For Kids:
· The 4 square mile patch of rainforest are covered with 150 species of butterflies, 400 species of birds, 1500 flowering, and 750 species of trees
· The trees of tropical rainforests are amazingly covered with canopy as the rains falling can take maximum 10 minutes to reach the surface of the ground
· Except for Antarctica, rainforests are found around all the continents of the earth, because the environment of Antarctica is too cold
· There are more than 6 million square miles of the rainforest, but less than half of that found around the world because of deforestation. Studies found that, if this deforestation continues in the same way, then only 5-10 species will go lost within 10 years
· The IUFRO found that there are around 80% of the flowers which are found in the rainforests of Australia and aren’t found anywhere else throughout the globe
· Around the tropical rainforest, the insects found which create the majority of the living creatures
· According to Geographical studies, several tribes in Brazil still live in the rainforests, and these tribes don’t have any contact with the outside world. The people of these tribes are dependent on these forests to fulfil their daily needs
· The fascinating fact is that the tropical rainforest supply the bulk amounts of oxygen that we take in our daily lives
· According to optimistic research, rainforests are the legit source that maintains our entire provision of safe drinking water. We get 1/5th part of the freshwater through the tropical rainforests. The Amazon basin is the exact source!
· An expert says, there are around 70% of the plants found in Amazon rainforest that can assist in treating cancer. Additionally, the U.S. Cancer Institute declares that these plants are highly effective and utilized to treat the cancer
· The Rainforest of Amazon is too large; if this forest were a country, then studies show that this become the 9th largest country of the world
· There are migratory birds are live in the rainforest during winter, and these birds come back in summer and spring region
· The rainforests which are located in Europe have 570 species of butterfly, and the forest of Peru only has 1300 species of butterflies
· Studies found that there are some rainforests around the globe which gets over 100 inches of rainfall nearly every year
· In Tasmania rainforest, some pine trees are found that can live up to 2000 years
Layers of Rainforests:
There are four layers of rainforest mentioned below:
· Emergent Layer
· Canopy Layer
· Understory Layer
· Forest Floor
What Do People get From Rainforests?
There are ample of things that we get from the Rainforest that includes:
· Spices such as ginger, coconut, allspice, pepper, cinnamon, paprika, clove, and vanilla
How can you help the rainforest:
You can help the rainforest by choosing eco friendly products, lowering your meat intake, buying local organic produce, using products with out palm oil,and donating to charities like ours that work hard everyday to protect and take care of the rainforest and the animals that live in it.
To donate please click on this link.
Every amount helps.
We were picked up at the airport and driven to our destination, stopping for coffee and to see the crocodiles sunning themselves on the river banks. A wonderful beginning. We arrived at the Blue Banyan Inn, KSTR, animal rescue where we were welcomed by Mackenzie, one of the amazing staff, who showed us to our cottage (very cute, comfortable beds, toilet, shower). He then showed us around the grounds and the sanctuary. We couldn't wait to start working!
We came back to an absolutely delicious lunch, including of course rice and beans, fresh fruit and vegetables etc. The whole staff sat together with volunteers. There were 5 volunteers the four of us and a girl from Scotland who became our very close friend. Chip and Jennifer, who started the whole project were incredibly warm, welcoming and energetic. Work started early the next morning after (the best) banana pancakes, eggs, fruit, coffee and orange juice served by Chip himself.
We cleaned and scrubbed cages, took out and washed all the dirty bowls, swept the stuck leaves of the paths in the sanctuary, prepared food, and learned about the animals. We were all there for them and we fell in love! Cooling off in the gorgeous pool, watching and discovering everything. The fruits, the trees, the flowers, the birds, the iguanas, the spiders and the myriad of butterflies like flowers in the air, constantly around us. Excellent buffet all together and back to work for the afternoon.
We met and became friends with the most amazing, interesting and passionate people. Volunteering at the KSTR table at Manuel Antonio Park was a whole new experience. A totally new way of life. We were free after to explore the park and the beaches. No words!
On the last day Chip insisted we go on a Catamaran for a morning of dolphins, snorkeling, totally unexpected delicious lunch, and slides into the ocean. It was very difficult to leave. Time seems to go at a different pace there. A week feels like two. I think we had about 5 mosquito bites between us and loved the weather, though hot and humid, with beautiful rain late afternoon. We all cannot wait foe our next adventure with you.
Greetings from the rainforest! This week, I've decided to feature toucans! These birds are very common in Costa Rica, and I never tire of seeing them flying in the wild.
There are two species of toucans endemic to Costa Rica: the keel-billed toucan and the chestnut-mandibled toucan. The keel-billed toucan is probably the bird you think of when someone says the word "toucan". Their beaks look painted: a fantastical combination of blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. I haven't seen one in the wild as these birds are found more in the north, but around Quepos, the second species of Costa Rican toucan, the chestnut-mandibled toucan, is very common. These birds are larger, with more subtle beaks than their rainbow-billed relatives. Their beaks are a combination of rich brown, yellow, and bright green, and their vivid coloration is most likely used in courtship or intimidation displays. Toucans eat fruit, eggs, and small animals, and they are surprisingly adept at using their large bills to manipulate and eat food. When they find a fruit, they pluck it from the tree and hold it with the tip of their beak. They toss it in the tip of their beak several times, then toss it backwards down their throat. Due to their large size and dexterity, there are few fruits they can't eat. In fact, I've seen a toucan cut open a mamón (basically a lychee with a much tougher peel) and eat it in as little as ten seconds. I haven't seen one catch a lizard or steal a bird egg yet, although I'm sure that would be interesting to see.
Toucans have a special place in my heart because they were one of the first animals to welcome me to my new home. After I arrived at Kids Saving the Rainforest, I was given a tour of the wildlife sanctuary. During this tour, I heard a bird call that was unlike any I'd heard before. Sonorous calls that sounded halfway between a shriek and a chirp, the sounds emanated from the rainforest, and I couldn't believe it when I heard that these were wild toucans close by. On my first full day of my internship, I woke up early before work and went out onto the balcony to look at the sunrise over the jungle. I heard those same, wild calls again, and to my delight I saw three toucans hopping among the branches in the tall trees around me! Toucans sit in trees and majestically look around them, resplendent beaks and striking black feathers standing out as they soberly scan their surroundings. Suddenly, they burst into a flurry of action, and little legs propel them forward as they daintily hop and flutter between branches. When they find food, usually a piece of fruit hanging from a tree, they pluck it with the tip of their massive beak, toss it up and down a couple of times, then deftly toss it into the back of their throat and swallow. Occasionally, they sharpen their beak on a branch with a surprisingly loud scraping sound. They split the balance between regal beauty and absurdity, their ornate beak sometimes adding majesty to their movements, sometimes adding an air of ridiculousness.
I have worked with one chestnut-mandibled toucan so far at Kids Saving the Rainforest. Her name was Mandy, and she came in before I arrived, brought in by a Tico who found her with a broken leg. Diego, one the veterinarians, showed me videos of her shortly after she arrived. A pitiful sight, she sat on a blanket in the bottom of the cage, her leg too damaged for her to perch on a branch. Due to the extent of her injury, few people had hope when she was brought in that she could someday be released. However, the vet staff decided to give her a chance because she kept trying: fighting and struggling to perch and fly around the cage. Once she had healed enough to perch, they performed physical therapy by making her move around the cage to strengthen her leg. Because her leg healed at an angle, she will never move exactly like she did before. However, when I first saw her after months of healing, I could barely tell that there was anything wrong with her. In fact, by the time I had arrived, the staff at KSTR was already discussing releasing her. They decided to do a soft release, which involves releasing an animal into the wild but still setting out food for them in an accessible location to make it easier for them to get adjusted to the wild. On Sunday night, we caught Mandy from her cage in rehab and moved her to a smaller cage in the nursery to let her become familiar with the area overnight. The next morning, we placed a bowl of food on top of the cage, opened the cage door, then stood back to watch what she would do. After a couple minutes of hesitation, she hopped out of her cage into a tree branch next to her food bowl. A previous intern that was heavily involved in her physical therapy and rehabilitation had written a poem before the end of her internship that she requested to be read when Mandy was released. While Mandy ate a full breakfast from her food bowl, we read the poem aloud to her to commemorate the hard work this intern had invested and to laud Mandy's fighting spirit. Mandy then began hopping and fluttering through the tree branches as toucans do. She attempted to fly out of the tree, but faltered and fell into the branches of the next tree over. Since she had been in cages that limited her flight abilities for several months, she would need practice before being able to fly long distances again. Having a guaranteed food source out for her ensures that until she is capable of flying to fruit trees, she'll be able to eat and stay healthy.
One last thing: I would be remiss if I didn't mention in this creature feature the toucan's striking cousin, the aracari. These little birds look like an child's drawing come to life. They're best described as a smaller, skinnier toucan with a color palette that only draws from black, red, orange, yellow, and white. I could write another whole blog post about them (and very well might in the future!), but for now I'll leave you with a picture of Camelio, the fiery-billed aracari in the sanctuary at KSTR.
Garrigues, Richard and Dean, Robert. The Birds of Costa Rica. San José: Zona Tropical, 2007.
Howe H.F. "Ramphastos swainsonii (Dios Tede, Toucan de Swainson, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan)." In Costa Rican Natural History, edited by Daniel H. Janzen. 603-604. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
The Kids Saving the Rainforest staff